Philippines ranked 8th friendliest paradise in the world -survey

Philippines – It may not always be that "fun" in the Philippines contrary to a widely circulated Department of Tourism (DOT) slogan but we are more than consistent in being warm and friendly as people.

A recent international survey conducted between May and July 2011 involving 3,385 expatriates in 100 countries reinforced this notion, with the Philippines being ranked eighth friendliest.

The top three spots were occupied by New Zealand, Australia, and South America.

According to Lisa Wood, head of marketing for HSBC, which spearheaded the survey, the study was meant to capture important insights into an expat's life.

"As the largest global survey of expats, Expat Explorer allows us to capture invaluable insights into expat life and how it differs from country to country, continent to continent and from an expats' home country of origin," says Wood, via a report on www.forbes.com that published the result of the rankings. "We want to be a business that truly understands its customers so that we can ensure our products and services meet their needs effectively."

To determine the friendliest country, the survey isolated results in four categories: ability to befriend locals, success in learning the local language, capacity for integrating themselves into the community, and ease in which they fit into the new culture.

New York-based expat coach Heather Markel says all of these play into the ability of expats to create a new support structure, which is among the biggest challenges when relocating.

"Because a majority of expats are so focused on closing the life they are leaving, they end up depressed at some point after relocating, because by not focusing on creating their new life before arriving, they end up with 'nothing'—no friends locally, nothing familiar, a feeling of loss," says Markel, via the same report. "Other challenges include learning a new language, experiencing new foods, more or less convenience, how genders might be treated. The sense of loss for what they liked in the culture they left can be a big challenge, as can a changed lifestyle."

Seventy-five percent of respondents living in New Zealand reported that they were integrating well in the local community; in Australia it was 77% and in South Africa 79%.

"New Zealanders as a whole seem like happy people, and that translates into friendly, helpful and kind people," notes American expat Kim Brinster who was also interviewed for the same piece.

Other positive aspects of New Zealand living, she says, include a "pitch-in-and-help mentality," as well as navigable government and health-care systems.

Dov Golan, an Israeli national who choose to live in the Philippines and for 14 years already  -- can't stop gushing about the people of his adopted country.

"They're very friendly and they're very polite they're very easy to talk to and they're warm people," said he in an interview with GMA News.

Golan, who is married to a Filipina, is not planning to leave anytime soon.

The same GMA report said that Malacanang welcomed the result of the HSBC survey hoping that it would help bolster the DOT's campaign to boost tourism in the country.

But which countries landed at the lowermost rung of the survey?

The least friendly country for expats was the United Arab Emirates. And among the countries that expats consider "most challenging" were Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia and India.

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